We don’t necessarily prioritise weight training over cardio, but they do play different roles within a transformation.
In order to improve body composition, we nearly always need some level of fat loss and to do that we need to create a calorie deficit. It is very hard to do this through diet alone without being very restrictive, which can only be effective for so long. It’s also very hard to do this through exercise alone and one high-calorie meal can easily offset several hours’ work. That’s why we use a combination of reduced calorie intake and increased general activity levels to increase our deficit.
It’s important to remember that cardio is simply one option in the fat loss toolbox. There’s nothing magic about cardio; it simply increases the number of calories you burn in general (as well as making you better at that form of exercise).
However, it can also place competing demands on the body when it comes to adaptation and recovery from resistance training, which is why we tend to recommend low-impact forms of activity, such as walking, for the most part, and minimal or even no cardio in many cases.
Once we have created the demand for our body to tap into its stored energy, we need to make sure this comes from tissue we don’t want to keep (body fat) rather than tissue we do (muscle). Rather than simply to burn huge numbers of calories, resistance training functions to retain and build lean tissue during times of caloric restriction. This has numerous important implications for physical appearance as well as wellbeing:

  • Improved aesthetic – think looking good naked as well as in clothes.
  • Improved nutrient partitioning – you make the most out of the foods you eat and reduce the risk of conditions such as type II diabetes.
  • Improved strength and reduced risk of age-related sarcopenia and osteoporosis.  Reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
  • And the most important one… being able to eat more!

In summary, we create a calorie deficit through increased activity and nutrition changes. The level of this deficit determines whether we lose weight and how fast. We can then encourage the body to tap into body fat by resistance training, eating adequate protein and optimising recovery.